California’s Golden Eagle Farm Set to Close

Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona, Calif., founded and owned by the late John and Betty Mabee, is scheduled to close Oct. 31 after 40 years of operation, according to Golden Eagle racing manager Janine McCullough.
The Golden Eagle-owned stallion Stormin Fever   will be moved to Rancho Temescal in Piru, Calif.
The Mabees, who won Eclipse Awards in 1991, 1997, and 1998 as the nation’s outstanding breeders, grew Golden Eagle from 197 acres to 568 acres and were also California’s leading breeders for several years. They bred horses in both California and Kentucky. John Mabee died in 2002, followed by his wife in 2010, and their son, Larry, in 2012.
“The family has put a lot of thought into this decision since the passing of Larry Mabee in December 2012,” said McCullough in a statement from the farm.
California-bred gelding Best Pal was bred at Golden Eagle and is buried on the property. The 1988 son of HabitonyUbetshedied, by King Pellinore, inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2010, earned $5,668,245. His victories included the 1992 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), 1993 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), and the inaugural Pacific Classic in 1991.
The Mabees’ other major runners included General Challenge, Dramatic Gold, Excellent Meeting, and Event of the Year. Though Golden Eagle has reduced its holdings over the years, a third generation, Larry’s son, John R. Mabee, has raced such horses as 2014 Tiznow Stakes winner Storm Fighter, a son of Stormin Fever   bred by his father.
John R. Mabee plans to continue racing in the Golden Eagle silks, according to a statement from the farm.
 “Larry’s son, John R. Mabee, is the one of three children with interest in the business,” McCullough said in the statement. “(He) grew up spending many days going to the track with his grandfather and has a passion for the sport. He genuinely loves the horses and (is) excited about continuing the famous Golden Eagle silks. We have several exciting horses in training right now and look forward to 2015.”

McCullough said she will stay on as racing manager and continue to manage the stallion Stormin Fever.


O’Neill and Racing’s Slow Regulatory Process

Within one week following a June 13, 2013, race at Belmont Park, the New York State Gaming Commission Equine Drug Testing Program had determined a horse had tested positive for a non-therapeutic drug with a high potential to affect race performance.

The horse in question, Wind of Bosphorus, trained by Doug O’Neill, finished second in that race at Belmont. O’Neill said he was informed of the positive within three weeks of the race.

The drug, a sedative, is in the highest penalty class (Class A) of the Association of Racing Commissioners’ International Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances and would seemingly call for swift, decisive action. That wasn’t the case.

Sanctions in the case, a $10,000 fine and 45-day suspension, weren’t announced until early October 2014. The suspension issued by the NYSGC was not scheduled to begin until Nov. 3, 2014, more than 16 months after the race in question. The sanctions were not handed down by the NYSGC; they were the result of a negotiated agreement.

The NYSGC didn’t schedule a hearing on the matter for nearly nine months after the race in question when an order to show cause was sent to O’Neill March 10, 2014. The order called on O’Neill and any legal representation to appear before a hearing officer April 29-30, nearly 10 1/2 months after the race in question. The letter to O’Neill notes that he could face license suspension or revocation.

In an emailed response to questions about the drawn out time between the positive and the show-cause letter, NYSGC director of communications Lee Park said some of the nine months was used to investigate the finding. In an email, Park cited NYSGC Equine Drug Testing Program protocol.

“After the investigation is completed and all other information is gathered and studied, the licensee if appropriate, is assessed a penalty from the state steward or presiding judge,” reads the policy in regard to the time frame following a laboratory report of a drug positive.

Park also said the O’Neill camp slowed the process.

“The state steward wanted to give Mr. O’Neill a chance to present his side of the story, and his attorney was taking a very long time doing so,” Park said.

O’Neill said he used some of the time to determine what had happened. He said he was having a difficult time understanding how the positive had occurred and did receive time to look into the matter.

He said he didn’t make the trip to New York for racing June 13, 2013, and had to interview staff about the matter. He said Oxazepam is not a drug that is used by his stable, and he was trying to determine how the positive occurred.

The scheduled April 29-30 show-cause hearing would have been open to the public, but the NYSGC said O’Neill and his attorney, Karen Murphy, “immediately sought a temporary restraining order in State of New York Supreme Court, County of Schenectady.” That action prevented the commission from moving forward with the hearing.

The court hearing on the restraining order was conducted May 12, 2014, nearly 11 months after the race in question. The court ruled the commission could move forward with the process.

“I think clearly the commission has jurisdiction, and beyond that, they did not in my opinion wrongfully exercise their initiative here under the law as it’s stated,” ruled justice Barry Kramer. “I think they have a right to go forward. I don’t think a writ of prohibition applies.”

The NYSGC said O’Neill and his attorney then requested a series of adjournments, which were granted by the hearing officer and prolonged any resolution of the matter. The commission began settlement negotiations with O’Neill at that time as well.

A hearing finally was conducted Sept. 15, and the hearing officer granted a final two-week adjournment to Sept. 29. Before Sept. 29, an agreement was reached to settle the matter.

Under the agreement announced Oct. 2 between the NYSGC and O’Neill, the trainer was levied a 45-day suspension in New York set to begin Nov. 3.

The delay between the June 13, 2013, race day in which the positive occurred and the show-cause hearing March 10, 2014, may have benefitted O’Neill.

During that nearly nine-month period from June 2013 to March 2014, O’Neill saddled Goldencents   to victory in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) and five other Breeders’ Cup starters at Santa Anita Park. This year O’Neill is barred from participating in Breeders’ Cup, which prohibits participation of trainers who during the 12 months preceding the World Championships are found by any racing regulatory agency to have violated a racing regulation prohibiting the possession or use of any Class I or II substance (non-therapeutic medications with a high probability of affecting race performance) that falls in the Class A or B penalty guidelines.

That Breeders’ Cup rule kicks in when final disposition is reached, which allows trainers time for the appeal process. O’Neill’s appeal process didn’t end until the agreement was announced earlier in October.

On Oct. 9 O’Neill received an additional 45 days in California because his positive in New York violated terms of an earlier probationary agreement. The California suspension began immediately, but because some of the dates overlap, the two 45-day suspensions together will actually result in just 70 days on the shelf. The trainer is allowed to return Dec. 19.

For O’Neill, this year’s California suspension followed a Class 3 violation in 2012 for total carbon dioxide that resulted in a 180-day suspension, with 135 of those days stayed and 18 months of probation. A condition of the stay required O’Neill not to receive any further drug violations at the Class I, II, or III level during the probation.

The New York drug positive fell within the probationary time, but New York didn’t issue its order to show cause until March 10, 2014, and the NYSGC penalties weren’t announced until October.

The current suspension from the CHRB also included 90 days that were stayed and an 18-month probation with the same notice that the stayed days could be added if a further Class I, II, or III violation occurs. This time the CHRB made a point of saying the date of a positive test will be the deciding event in the 18-month timeframe, not the date of complaint or adjudication.

In an e-mailed response to a series of questions, the NYSGC did not directly answer if other drug positives in the state currently are in the investigative process.

In an Oct. 9 statement on his website, O’Neill said he could have pursued the New York matter further but didn’t want to involve his owners in the process.

“Fighting these board decisions not only costs a lot of money, but far more importantly to me, I’d have to involve all the horse owners and everybody else I work with,” O’Neill said. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate and respect the trusted relationships I am so privileged to have with our team’s horse owners. And the last thing in the world I’m going to do is intentionally drag them in the same mud that I’ve been pulled in to. It’s absolutely not fair to them.

“I understand why the boards take the actions they do and I’ll deal with it on my own.”

O’Neill suggested a possible reason for the positive could be stall contamination at Belmont.

“To that, we will institute some new policies in our barn which will heighten security and will include the professional disinfecting of stalls anytime a horse ships in or switches stalls,” O’Neill said.


Hillstar Shoots to Canadian International Win

Hillstar Shoots to Canadian International Win

Photo: Michael Burns – Hillstar wins the Pattison Canadian International.

British invader Hillstar blasted to the lead approaching midstretch and held on firmly for victory under jockey Ryan Moore in the $1 million Pattison Canadian International (gr. IT) (VIDEO) Oct. 19 on the Woodbine turf.

Hillstar was the 6-5 favorite in the field of nine, defeated the grinding Big Blue Kitten by about three-quarters of a length in a time of 2:29 flat on good turf for the 1 1/2-mile distance. With the victory, Hillstar surpassed $1 million in career earnings in his first North American start.

The 4-year-old son of Danehill Dancer races for Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and is trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who won his second Canadian International following Singspiel in 1996. Southcourt Stud bred Hillstar in Great Britain out of the Mark of Esteem mare Crystal Star.

Hillstar provided the second Canadian International winner in a row for the international champion rider Moore, who won last year’s race with Joshua Tree.

“I was out a little bit too early but he was fine and plenty and it was going to take a good horse to get by him,” said Moore. “Like Brown Panther, he (Hillstar) was the best horse in the race and just felt we would keep it as simple as we could.

“I am sure the boss (trainer Stoute) had this race as a target from a long way out and it was always something we had in the backs of our minds if things were going well. I moved a bit too early today but he was the best horse and we kept it straightforward again.”

Hillstar won his initial grade or group I race and became the first favorite to win the Canadian International since Champs Elysees in 2009.

Big Blue Kitten was second, with Dynamic Sky third. The race’s complexion changed completely when morning line Favorite Brown Panther was scratched after dumping jockey Richard Kingscote prior to the start and running off.

Hillstar won last year’s King Edward VII (Eng-II) at Ascot in June 2013 before finishing third in the prestigious King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (gr. IT), both at 1 1/2 miles. The bay colt was coming off a group III tally in the Arc Trial Legacy Cup at Newberry Sept. 20.

Sunday, Hillstar raced midpack for the opening mile as Reporting Star, tracked by The Pizza Man, set the pace. Reporting Star negotiated the opening half mile in :50.34 and the mile in 1:40.10 before The Pizza Man took control approaching the quarter pole in 2:04.54.

The Pizza Man took the field into the stretch as Hillstar, who advanced to fourth on the outside rounding the final bend, loomed into contention. Three wide coming into the stretch, Hillstar took command after sweeping past The Pizza Man and finished in a drive for Moore all the way to the wire.

Big Blue Kitten, who was tracking Hillstar all the way into the stretch, rallied willingly for Joel Rosario and was cutting into Hillstar’s advantage as they reached the wire.

“I had a good trip,” Rosario said about runner-up Big Blue Kitten.” It took him a long time to get into the race, but he ran well. I though the horse that won the race was the best horse today, and I’m glad we got second.”

Dynamic Sky, who was last early under Patrick Husbands after a slow start, came on gamely for third, nosing out The Pizza Man while finishing two lengths behind the runner-up.

Suntracer was fifth, followed by Reporting Star, War Dancer, Pyrite Mountain, and O’Prado Ole.

Hillstar recorded his fourth lifetime win in 15 starts and boosted his career bankroll to $1,192,400 with the winner’s share of $531,900.

Under equal weights of 126 pounds, Hillstar paid $4.50, $2.70, and $2.50 across the board, keying a chalky $13.80 exacta with the 5-2 second choice Big Blue Kitten. Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s multiple grade I winner returned $2.80 and $2.80 for the place, while Dynamic Sky was $4.50 to show.

Brown Panther, who was also making his U.S. debut after winning the Irish St. Leger (Ire-I) Sept 14, was fractious prior to the race and bucked off jockey Kingscote near the starting gate. He got loose shortly thereafter and shockingly bolted past the starting gate, taking off around the course, with the remounted Kingscote, his feet out of the stirrups, unable to control him.

Kingscote was eventually dropped on the backside by Brown Panther, who then continued his journey alone around the turf course before finally being corralled by the course outrider.

“Just before the break, the horse got wound up and unfortunately he got me off,” a dejected Kingscote said afterward. “When I got back on, I tried to keep him relaxed and as soon as I let go he bolted. There wasn’t much I could do after that. He’s never done that before. He sometimes dances about and gets on his toes, but he’s never been that extreme.”

“It’s very disappointing,” said Tom Dascombe, trainer of Brown Panther. “Well done to the winner and the connections of Caspar Netscher (Nearctic Stakes winner). It wasn’t our day today.”


Monmouth to Begin Sports Wagering Oct. 26

Following approval by Gov. Chris Christie, Monmouth Park is to begin offering and accepting wagers on sporting contests and athletic events Oct. 26 at the New Jersey racetrack.

“We thank Governor Christie for his leadership on this issue,” said Dennis Drazin, advisor to Darby Development, operators of Monmouth Park.

“The New Jersey horse racing industry and the associated agriculture support services is a $1 billion industry and is responsible for 13,000 jobs in the Garden State, as well as the open spaces and green acres that are the direct result of horse racing,” Drazin said. “The Governor’s signature on S2460 earlier today is a wire-to-wire winner for horse racing, the gaming industry, and the people of New Jersey.”

In 2011, Garden State voters decided they no longer wanted New Jersey laws that made it illegal to engage in sports betting at Atlantic City casinos and at the state’s racetracks. After two years of litigation in the federal courts, a definitive interpretation as to the scope and meaning of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was handed down.

In that decision, the court stated that it does “not read PASPA to prohibit New Jersey from repealing its ban on sports wagering.” The court went on to state that “it is left up to each state to decide how much of a law enforcement priority it wants to make of sports gambling, or what the exact contours of the prohibition will be.”

Following a vote in the New Jersey Senate of 27-1 Oct. 14 and in the General Assembly, 73-4, Christie signed the sports betting bill, thus paving the way for Atlantic City casinos and New Jersey’s racetracks to commence immediately.

“I want to express our thanks and gratitude to the entire New Jersey Legislature,” said Drazin. “We can’t wait to welcome new fans to the racetrack as we embark on this exciting new era in the long and storied history of Monmouth Park.”


Australian Apprentice Jockey Dies After Fall

Australian apprentice jockey Caitlin Forrest died Oct. 15 after a fall at Murray Bridge race course near Adelaide, the second female jockey to die in recent days.

Forrest’s mount Colla Voce fell, bringing down three other horses, and she was flung to the ground ahead of the trailing pack. Forrest, 19, was airlifted to Royal Adelaide Hospital but died from her injuries.

Carly-Mae Pye, 26, died a day earlier from injuries sustained when the horse she was riding broke its front legs during a training run, throwing her head-first into the track.

Pye was riding Oct. 13 in a jump-out, which simulates the start of a race from the gate in non-race conditions, at Callaghan Park at Rockhampton in Queensland state.

Australian Racing Board chief executive Peter McGauran said that authorities will continue to research improved safety equipment, but that racing has become safer in recent years, despite the two deaths this week.

“Tracks have never been safer with plastic running rails…but we still have catastrophic injuries and losses of life,” McGauran told a Sydney radio station. “Safety equipment is better than it has ever been but with 500 to 600 kilogram (approximately 1,100 to 1,300 pounds) horses going that fast, the jockeys are always at risk.”

A 17-year-old American apprentice, Juan Saez, also died in a race fall at an Indiana track Oct. 15.


Canadian International Attracts Brown Panther

Canadian International Attracts Brown Panther

Photo: Michael Burns – Brown Panther

European invaders Brown Panther and Hillstar will be well-backed in their initial North American starts as part of a competitive field of 10 expected for the $1 million Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT) at Woodbine Oct. 19.

The 77th edition of 1 1/2-mile Pattison, one of Canada’s richest races, is the first of three graded stakes on the Woodbine turf Sunday. It is the sixth race with a scheduled post time of 3:32. p.m. ET. The other featured turf events on the program are the the $500,000 E.P. Taylor (Can-IT), at 1 1/4 miles for fillies and mares, and the $300,000 Nearctic  (Can-IIT) at six furlongs.

TSN will provide special live coverage across Canada from 3 to 4 p.m ET, and the entire Woodbine card will be presented in the United States over TVG. This marks the 12th year that Pattison Outdoor, Canada’s largest outdoor advertising company, has sponsored Woodbine’s turf classic. All horses carry 126 pounds.

British-bred Brown Panther, who drew post 4, is the 2-1 morning line choice. The 6-year-old son of 2005 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Shirocco arrives from England after winning the Irish St. Leger (Ire-I), the 1 3/4-mile classic held Sept. 14 at the Curragh. Brown Panther prevailed by 6 1/2 lengths as a 14-1 outsider.

Trained by Tom Dascombe for owners Andrew Black and former star English footballer Michael Owen (Owen Promotions), Brown Panther has been a successful world traveler with 10 wins from 24 outings. He has campaigned in England, Germany, Ireland, France, and Australia while banking more than $1.1 million. Richard Kingscote, who has been aboard for all but four of his starts, will ride.

The main question is whether the 12-furlong distance might be a bit short for him.

“He’s won two listed races over a mile-and-a-half and he was just beaten about four lengths in the King George (Eng-I) over a mile-and- a half,” said Dascombe. “As long as there’s a nice pace in the race it won’t bother him. He won’t want a crawl.”

Brown Panther has a pair of group III wins earlier in the year at distance of about 2 1/16 miles and 1 11/16 miles.

Sir Evelyn De Rothschild’s 4-year-old Hillstar is in post 7 at a morning line of 5-1 for trainer Sir Michael Stoute, who won the Canadian International in 1996 with champion Singspiel and has placed on three other occasions. Another British-bred, the son of Danehill Dancer is to be ridden by champion jockey Ryan Moore, who teamed with Joshua Tree to win the Canadian International last year.

Hillstar enters off a group III win at Newbury Sept. 20, his first victory in six starts this year while also boasting four runner-up finishes. The bay colt won the 2013 King Edward VII Stakes (Eng-II) at the 1 1/2-mile distance at Ascot prior to finishing third in the prestigious King Geoge VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-I). He was 14th in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in March on a synthetic surface, his most recent try at the top level.

“We’re really happy with this fellow,” said Stoute. “He didn’t handle that track in Dubai, but in England he’s been ultra-consistent; he’s run some good solid races, won his last at Newbury, comes into the race in good shape, and appears to have traveled well.

“It was very slow ground (his last start) but he’s impervious to ground conditions, actually. He goes on any ground. I think a mile-and-a-half is his best trip. (Brown Panther) beat me at Chester in May but that was (at 1 11//16). He just outstayed me that day. I would be hopeful I could beat him at a mile and a half.”

Trainer Chad Brown will saddle Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Big Blue Kitten, a dual grade I winner breaking from post 9 while pegged at 3-1. The Kentucky-bred 6-year-old son of Ramsey foundation sire Kitten’s Joy   is the field’s leading money winner with almost $1.3 million.

Lightly-raced this season with only three starts, Big Blue Kitten will be ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario. He enters off a close fourth-place finish to Breeders’ Cup-bound Main Sequence in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park Sept. 27.  Last year, he won four of eight races, including the grade I triumphs in the United Nations at Monmouth Park and Sword Dancer at Saratoga Race Course.

About his most recent race, the Turf Classic, Brown said, “It was a little disappointing. We really liked him going into the race. There wasn’t a lot of pace in the race. It wasn’t a bad effort but it wasn’t a winning effort, either. But he came out of the race in great shape, he’s training well.”

The Ramseys, Brown and Rosario teamed to finish second to Joshua Tree in last year’s Canadian International with Hyper.

Midwest Thoroughbreds’ The Pizza Man, breaking from post 2 while listed at 6-1 on the early line, is ridden by Florent Geroux and trained by Roger Brueggemann. The Pizza Man makes a return appearance to Woodbine after finishing fifth as the 6-5 favorite in the Northern Dancer (Can-IT) Sept. 14, his first loss in four starts this season.

In three previous outings, the 5-year-old Illinois-bred gelded son of turf champion English Channel   won the American St. Leger, Stars and Stripes (gr. IIIT), and the restricted Black Tie Affair, all stakes at Arlington International Race Course near Chicago.

Team Block’s Suntracer (12-1), another 6-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy, captured the Kentucky Turf Cup (Gr. IIIT) Sep. 13 for trainer Chris Block. Another entrant coming out of the Kentucky Turf Cup is third-place finisher War Dancer (12-1), a 4-year-old son of War Front   who was favored that day for trainer Ken McPeek.

One of two Canadian-breds in the race is John Oxley’s Dynamic Sky (15-1), trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Patrick Husbands. Since 1958, when the International became a turf race, five different Canadian-breds have won, the latest being Thornfield in 1999. The others were Chief Bearhart (1997), Sky Classic (1991), He’s a Smoothie (1967), and George Royal (1965 and 1966).

Dynamic Sky, a 4-year-old son of Sky Mesa  , was third in last year’s Queen’s Plate and enters off a close second-place finish in the Northern Dancer, his best effort yet in four turf appearances.

Bortolazzo Stable’s Pyrite Mountain (12-1), trained by Todd Pletcher, returns to Woodbine after being sold and campaigned in the United States in his first three races this year, all narrow second place finishes. The Ontario-bred by Silent Name   enters off a tough nose loss to Suntracer in the Kentucky Turf Cup. Jamie Spencer, who last month won the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) aboard Trade Storm, has been named to ride.

Reporting Star (20-1), a good third last time in the Northern Dancer after setting the pace, and O’Prado Ole, fourth in the Kentucky Turf Cup, complete the field.

Pattison Canadian International S. (gr. IT)

Woodbine , Sunday, October 19, 2014, Race 6
  • 1 1/2m
  • Turf
  • $1,000,000
  • 3 yo’s & up
  • 3:32 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Weight Trainer
1 O’Prado Ole (KY) Channing Hill 126 Dale L. Romans
2 The Pizza Man (IL) Florent Geroux 126 Roger A. Brueggemann
3 Suntracer (IL) Carlos H. Marquez, Jr. 126 Chris M. Block
4 Brown Panther (GB) Richard Kingscote 126 Thomas Dascombe
5 Dynamic Sky (ON) Patrick Husbands 126 Mark E. Casse
6 War Dancer (KY) Luis Contreras 126 Kenneth G. McPeek
7 Hillstar (GB) Ryan L. Moore 126 Sir Michael R. Stoute
8 Pyrite Mountain (ON) Jamie P. Spencer 126 Todd A. Pletcher
9 Big Blue Kitten (KY) Joel Rosario 126 Chad C. Brown
10 Reporting Star (FL) Justin Stein 126 Pat Parente


TRAGIC LATE NEWS – Apprentice Saez Dies Due to Spill Injuries

Apprentice jockey Juan Saez, 17, has died as a result of injuries sustained Tuesday night, Oct. 14, during a spill in the eighth race at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.

The Indianapolis Star said Marion County’s chief deputy coroner Alfarena Ballew reported the death of Saez, who was airlifted from a heliport near the track by Life Flight and transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital where he was treated in the level one trauma center.

Although details of the incident are being reviewed by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission’s board of stewards, it is believed that Montezuma Express, ridden by Saez, clipped heels with the horse in front of him, Paddy’s Notes, ridden by Oriana Rossi. As a result of the contact in the turn of the six-furlong optional claiming race, Montezuma Express, a 4-year-old son of Henny Hughes, fell, causing Saez to be unseated. Trailing horse Masaru, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., was unable to avoid the fallen horse and also fell, unseating that rider.

Montezuma Express, trained by Rick Hiles for B M H Stable, had to be euthanized. No other riders were taken to the hospital.

Saez, a native of Panama, was the younger brother of journeyman Luis Saez. Saez had a 2-3-7 standing from 26 mounts at the current Keeneland meet for a 46% in-the-money rate. He graduated at the top of his class from of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Jockey School in Panama.

In a separate incident at the top of the stretch, Platitude fell, unseating jockey Marcelino Pedroza. Platitude, a 4-year-old son of Yes It’s True   trained by Tim Glyshaw for Steve Markwell, Brian McCormick, Fred Bleuel, was euthanized as a result of the fall. Pedroza not was taken to the hospital. Officials believe the two incidents were not related.

Due to two incidents on the track in different locations, the decision was made to cancel the ninth and final race on the program.



1 Javier Castellano $21,167,316
2 Joel Rosario $17,928,075
3 Irad Ortiz, Jr. $15,872,903
4 John R. Velazquez $14,819,611
5 Jose L. Ortiz $12,506,492
6 Rosie Napravnik $11,236,113
7 Mike E. Smith $11,154,845
8 Rajiv Maragh $9,551,131
9 Jose Lezcano $9,514,975
10 Rafael Bejarano $8,982,855

Player Mixes Inspiration and Advice to Owners

 Player Mixes Inspiration and Advice to Owners

Photo: Daniel Sigal

Gary Player during his the keynote address of the inaugural Thoroughbred Owner Conference

World champion golfer and longtime South African breeder Gary Player offered a mix of inspirational and practical anecdotes during the keynote address of the inaugural Thoroughbred Owner Conference, being held Oct. 13-16 in Lexington.

Through a personal commitment to be the most physically fit professional golfer on tour, Player became of one of the 20th century’s greatest golfers and one of only five players to win the Grand Slam on both the PGA Tour and Senior or Champions Tour.
“Everybody has a dream, but too many people rely just on the dream,” Player said. “The dream is not good enough; you have to fulfill it by heard work and dedication. You have to be more than the next opponent to fulfill that dream.
“One of the great things about both sports (golf and horse racing), they gives everyone a chance,” he said.
Player has been breeding Thoroughbreds for about 50 years. He bought the farm that would become Gary Player Stud in 1974 and has a small but select group of mares that produce about 12% stakes winners per crop. He became the first South African breeder to produce an international group I winner—Broadway Flyer (Theatrical—Serena, by Jan Ekels). Broadway Flyer won the 1996 Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap (gr. IT) at Saratoga Race Course.
Despite his successes, Player said Thoroughbred breeding remains a mystery.
“I’ve been around the best breeders in the world, I’ve been in the business for about 50 years, and we all know a helluva lot about nothing,” Player said. He proceeded to tell a story about his farm manager who traded “a dog of a racehorse” for a “dog of mare.”  The mare was bred to a stallion that would later become one of South Africa’s top sires but at the time had a stud fee of $10,000.
“The first baby they sold for $500,000,” he said. “The second baby they sold for $650,000, and the next baby they will probably sell for $2 million. The first one has already won a group I and been third in our premier race. If it wins another group I, it will probably become a sire and probably make $30 million…from a horse that is worth 10 grand. Now that is what can happen in this business.”
Player’s advice to owners boiled down to these key points: Find people you trust, stay focused on quality, and get involved with partners because it just makes being a part of the sport more fun.
“There are a lot of good people in this industry; find somebody who won’t destroy your desire to be in the business,” he said.
“And rather than buying a million-dollar horse, I say buy five at $200,000 and find yourself partners,” Player continued. “You want to have fun while you’re doing it. I’ve had partners and had tremendous fun. You can go on holidays together, you can go to races together, and you can play golf. You can bring your wife, you can bring your family. It is a great sport for the family.”
The Thoroughbred Owner Conference is being presented by The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owner and Breeders Association, is being held at Keeneland. Opening day featured panel discussions on the “owners first” programs being developed by Keeneland, Del Mar, the New York Racing Association, and The Stronach Group plus discussions among leading owners, trainers, and jockeys. Another panel discussion was held on selecting horses at auction involving both buyers and bloodstock agents.
The conference continues Oct. 15 with presentations about veterinary care and aftercare organizations, and a panel discussion with younger owners offering their perspectives on the future of horse racing.


Apprentice Saez to Indy Hospital After Spill

Apprentice jockey Juan Saez was airlifted to an Indianapolis hospital Oct. 14 following a frightening spill during the eighth race at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.
The 17-year-old suffered severe head trauma and was fighting for his life at Methodist Hospital Tuesday evening, Daily Racing Form reported.
Saez’s agent, Julio Espinoza, told the publication that doctors revived the young rider “about three or four times” after it appeared that he had died at the track. Espinoza said that Saez had other serious injuries as well and that his chances for survival were dim.
Although details of the incident are being reviewed by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission’s board of stewards, it is believed that Montezuma Express, ridden by Saez, clipped heels with the horse in front of him, Paddy’s Notes, ridden by Oriana Rossi. As a result of the contact in the turn of the six-furlong optional claiming race, Montezuma Express, a 4-year-old son of Henny Hughes, fell, causing Saez to be unseated. Trailing horse Masaru, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., was unable to avoid the fallen horse and also fell, unseating that rider.
Saez, a native of Panama, is the younger brother of journeyman Luis Saez. He was airlifted from the track by Life Flight and transported to hosptial. Montezuma Express, trained by Rick Hiles for B M H Stable, had to be euthanized. No other riders were taken to the hospital.
Saez has a 2-3-7 standing from 26 mounts at the current Keeneland meet for a 46% in-the-money rate. He graduated at the top of his class from of the Laffit Pincay Jr. Jockey School in Panama.
In a separate incident at the top of the stretch, Platitude fell, unseating jockey Marcelino Pedroza. Platitude, a 4-year-old son of Yes It’s True  trained by Tim Glyshaw for Steve Markwell, Brian McCormick, Fred Bleuel, was euthanized as a result of the fall. Pedroza not was taken to the hospital. Officials believe the two incidents were not related.
Due to two incidents on the track in different locations, the decision was made to cancel the ninth and final race on the program.
Additional details will be released as a result of the official board of steward’s review.